Wild Yoga

yoga and thought from Theo Wildcroft

Portraits to a purpose


This week: another selection of early artwork. These are portraits to a purpose. As much of my fascinations are with the physical body, most of them are, to use a delightful internet phrase ‘not safe for work’. In other words, although they are not conceived as erotic, they do contain nudity.

Firstly, and from many, many years ago, a series on the chakras. At the time, I had only a basic understanding of the philosophical context of this elegant systemisation mapping life forces to the body. I’m pleased how well they’ve stood up, although now I’m not sure I would have such confidence in using a non-conventional colour scheme! Classically, the root chakra is associated with a deep, primal red, the sacrum with a warm orange, solar plexus with bright yellow, and so on up to the violet, shading to white, of the crown chakra.

Next, a collection based on another long-term obsession – painting on the body. I was lucky enough to model a few times for Ian Bell, in return for showing me a few things, and spent many a happy night at clubs in London, painting the revellers for fun and enough money to cover the taxi home. With the right lights and blackout material at home, it is possible to turn a light, airy bedroom into a UV studio. These images have not been colour corrected in any way. The trick with ultraviolet body painting is to not paint the bits you want to hide. Also, having spent a whole day at a time under Ian’s brush, before being asked to move and stretch and actually model, I have every sympathy for my model here, who hardly fidgeted at all, really!

And finally, a seed project that never flowered. Most creative people have little half-begun, half-finished commissions like that. In this case, I was approached about supplying the images for an oracle of goddesses of the night sky, by an old online friend, but they never did find a publisher for it. The sample images I created were still fun to make though – each one a palimpsest of hundreds of photos from NASA, old star maps, and ancient mythology. Once again, my gratitude goes to those brave friends who posed naked for the source images. Each one makes a magnificent goddess, don’t you think?

Posts might be a little short over the summer, as I’ll be spending a lot of time in a field in the Forest of Dean. But I hope to keep up my schedule of three posts a month. By the time I am home from the last camp, my research project will be looming, and we shall see what we shall see. For those still reading, may the gods bless and keep you – I started this as a way to get used to writing again in advance of starting my doctorate, and it’s your willingness to enter into that conversation that keeps me going. Stay with me, I hope to take you to some interesting places over the next few years.